Sayward-Wheeler House overlooks the York River, which was ideal for shipping merchant Jonathan Sayward (1713–1797), who bought the house in 1735. A successful businessman, Sayward was a judge and leading citizen in York. He enjoyed great community respect, although his Loyalist views were in the minority during the years leading up to the American Revolution. In 1775 he was stripped of his local positions and confined to the town by anti-Loyalist officials.
Sayward suffered through many restless nights, of which he wrote in his diary on May 12, 1777, “I heard the Clock every Hour Last night.” Today, the clock remains in the sitting room near Sayward’s desk, one room away from where he struggled to sleep. The house changed little in the following century, due to the declining wealth of Sayward’s descendants and in deference to the family’s venerable patriarch. The parlor still contains the 1700s furniture and portraits that were there on the eve of the Revolution. It is believed to be one of the best-preserved colonial interiors in the nation.
A new tour on the horizon at Historic New England’s Sayward-Wheeler House, will consider the site and its collection from the viewpoints of several eighteenth-century household members, substantively four enslaved people—Prince, Dinah, Cato, and Boneto. Previously, the narrative joined collection items and his own diaries to reflect the life of homeowner Jonathan Sayward. The new tour will reexamine these same collection items for insight into lives previously uncelebrated.
Sayward-Wheeler House is located at 9 Barrell Lane Extension, York Harbor, Maine.